United Nations-backed consultations aimed at resolving the conflict in the Sudanese region of Darfur began today in the Qatari capital, Doha, with more than 500 people representing the parties to the dispute, as well as civil society and political leaders.
The All Darfur Stakeholders Conference, chaired by the African Union-UN Joint Chief Mediator, Djibril Bassolé, and the Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Mahmoud, is expected to finalize a document which will form the basis of a peace agreement to be signed by the Sudanese Government and the Darfuri opposition movements.
The five-day event brings together high-ranking representatives of the Government of Sudan, Darfur movements, civil society delegates, representatives of internally displaced persons, Sudanese political party leaders and elected members of state legislatures and the national parliament from Darfur.
Participants will discuss such key issues as the return of displaced persons, compensation, justice and reconciliation, power and wealth-sharing, and women’s rights and their participation in negotiations and implementation of a peace deal. Aid workers and members of the international community are attending proceedings as observers.
Ibrahim Gambari, the Joint Representative and head of the UN-AU peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), welcomed the start of the conference, stressing the need to resolve the conflict.
“We are anxious to have a permanent ceasefire to the conflict and a comprehensive peace agreement to implement,” he stated.
Mr. Al-Mahmoud said: “We hope this deal will be the basis to reach a peace agreement in Darfur.” The Government of Qatar pledged to continue supporting the parties in their efforts to reach a peace agreement and to help rehabilitate Darfur, which has been ravaged by conflict since 2003 when rebel groups took up arms against the Sudanese Government to fight against alleged marginalization and discrimination of their region.
“We believe that the people of Darfur are the key to the solution,” he added.
According to Mr. Bassolé, “the conference is not a substitute to negotiations, but the conference will definitely create the base so that the parties can adhere to it, discuss further and sign.”